tv The Situation Room CNN May 8, 2014 2:00pm-3:31pm PDT
know it's not been without controversy. >> applauded or protested, this year's speakers will be addressing a very important group. the next generation of controversial invitees. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i'll turn you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." wolf? >> jake, thanks very much. happening now, breaking news. severe weather warnings. high winds, rain, and possible tornadoes sweeping across a large swath of the u.s. right now. millions of people are being told to brace for the worst. we're following fast-moving stories in multiple countries. dramatic developments in the fight against terror. cnn has learned that the u.s. is on the way to help find girls taken by militants. but a disturbing new development may make that much more difficult. i'll speak with lisa monaco.
>> and sterling is caught on a new secret recording talking about the scandal over his racist remarks and hinting at what he may do next. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." let's begin with the breaking news. reports of more than a dozen al qaeda militants killed by dozens of forces in yemen. sources telling cnn that the u.s.-backed operation has ousted hundreds of terrorists from their strong holds in multiple cities across the country but the militants are on the run and said to be taken new safe havens in parts of yemen. millions of people are bracing for possible thunderstorms and tornadoes that could touch down at any moment. our analysts and reporters are covering all angles of all of these stories. let's begin with chad myers. he's over at the cnn severe weather center.
chad? >> major wind event and a possible few tornadoes, wolf. right here, this is dallas-ft. worth. royce city is about to get hit with 70 mile-per-hour winds as the storm moves up greenville into texas. this is not the only area that you mentioned. this is from minneapolis down into texas proper. one more spot i want to take you here into minneapolis. a lot of lightning. 500 lightning strikes right through minneapolis just in the past half hour. this is what our affiliate kare is seeing out of their tower cam. this would be from st. cloud back into minneapolis. we were seeing lightning strikes on this. very heavy downpours. i'm sure that the airports are delayed because of this weather. it's just starting. it's only 4:00 central time. not only the heat of the day yet. we'll be with you all night long. this severe weather could last into the overnight hours. >> and it looks -- specifically
dallas, what is going on there? >> there was a big storm. it's called a line wave echo pattern. for a while n. this notch, there was enough rotation that there was a tornado warning for garland and points right at about the president george bush turnpike. the weather service deleted that and said it's just going to be a severe thunderstorm warning for now but the winds could be 70 to 80 miles per hour into this area moving east of the metroplex. i know we're not talking about dallas-ft. worth proper but a lot of people that commute to dallas live here and the weather is not cooperating with them right now. you can get a lot of damage with a straight line wind. if you're in royce city, get away from the windows because the glass can break. a lot of shingles are going to be gone. we want people to be safe. >> the dallas airport is a major
hub and could affect traffic and weather all over the country. >> that means that no airplane on the ground right now heading to dallas is allowed to take off. there's enough stuff, planes in the area right now, in the air that they can't get any more in the air because they may not have enough time to get them all on. they may have to divert them. they are standing, ground stopping on tarmacs all over the country. if you're on your way to dallas, a lot of planes are going to be late and connections are going to be missed. wolf? >> we're going to watch the extreme weather. chad, don't go too far away. wegovernment forces killed the latest fighting in yemen. let's begin this part of the story from new york. mohammed has breaking news on the yemen front. what are you hearing? >> major breaking developments. senior level government officials telling me two towns that have been captured have
been retaken by yemen's army as a result of the ground operations that have been going on for close to two weeks now. the yemenese government, the tape is showing ieds, exclusive devices hit en, in effect, inside a strong hold that was a base for aqap. we're seeing dramatic video and video of tanks and armed personnel carriers rolling into other towns that had been housing aqap leaders for years. this is really a very big deal. the yemeni government telling me that they feel confident that they have al qaeda on the run now. they are getting the upper hand. the fact that they have committed so many troops and resources with a weak central government for this fight, that is very significant. the key will be whether they can actually make sure that they have run these terrorists off, that they have captured them or
killed them and if aqap will be able to regroup as they have been in the past. the fact of the matter is, heightening security. even the capitol is closed down because of threats directed at it and other western installations. aqap, because they are resurgent, will be able to strike out at yemeni targets and american targets. wolf? >> stand by. there are efforts under way to rescue more than 200 schoolgirls who may have become a little more difficult to find. a team is scheduled to land in nigeria tomorrow. captors are threatening to sell them. barbara starr is standing by. what are you picking up, barbara? >> wolf, u.s. officials have good reason to believe that this is about to get much more complicated, that at least some of the girls have been split up
into smaller groups and, of course, that means possibly, possibly moved across international borders in africa which are vague borders at best. that is going to make it very difficult. a small u.s. military team scheduled to land in nigeria tomorrow will join up with other u.s. personnel already working on this out of the embassy military personnel law enforce in the and intelligence. if the girls are split up into small groups, this becomes a massive intelligence problem. how do you go -- how do you find them, how do you find where they are being held, how do you go after their captors all at the same time? we've talked about this. you have to have simultaneously raids because if you do not do this all at once in multiple locations, that gives boko haram warning that the nigerians are coming after them. the u.s. is talking to nigeria about using drones to try to take those beginning steps to
track down boko haram. wolf? >> barbara, stand by. i want to bring in peter bergen and mohammed jamjoom is still joining us from new york. >> i think the short answer is i don't think anyone had a could handle on it. it was so murky. they haven't tried to attack an american target. there was a debate within the administration whether to designate them as a foreign organization and they have not threatened the united states verbally but they have not operationalized any of that. i think it's a group that is difficult to decipher and, you know, recently the state department designated as a foreign terrorist organization. >> november of last year. barbara, i've been told that this group apparently relishes all of the attention that it's getting lately. it's sort of emboldened by it at
the same time. they could go out there and kidnap a whole bunch more girls. >> well, i mean, our own cnn personnel in nigeria had been reporting for days now how precarious the security situation is and in the north of nigeria, where this has been happening, there virtually is no security. we saw that boko haram went into a village and has killed 300 more people. this is just terrible what these nigerian civilians are putting up with. it is going to be a tradeoff. boko haram may relish the publicity but the international pressure could, could turn so much heat on them that it is possible that it may give the nigerian government the tools are really go after them but they are going to have to make the critical decision that it really wants to do that and so far there is a lot of evidence that the nigerians have not done it as aggressively as they could, wolf. >> peter, i'm going to show you this dramatic video that
allegedly shows a hotel in aleppo being blown up going after bashar al assad's troops. watch this. that's pretty powerful stuff over there. these are the rebels but a lot of those rebels now are affiliated with al qaeda. >> yeah. i mean, the united states is giving weaponry to vetted rebels and that weaponry is starting to come through. there are two groups. they are fighting each other. but certainly the al qaeda affiliate is regarded as the most -- the strongest militarily. >> it's a real problem right now. peter bergen, mohammed jamjoom and barbara starr, thank you so much. i'll speak with the white house counterterrorism adviser lisa monacco. did the u.s. drop the ball?
plus, shocking comments by donald sterling. you're going to hear what he said in a secret recording about the allegations of racism. >> forget it. it's not true. >> it's not true? we asked people a question, how much money do you think you'll need when you retire? then we gave each person a ribbon to show how many years that amount might last. i was trying to, like, pull it a little further. [ woman ] got me to 70 years old. i'm going to have to rethink this thing. it's hard to imagine how much we'll need for a retirement that could last 30 years or more. so maybe we need to approach things differently, if we want to be ready for a longer retirement. ♪
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right now. she's the assistant to the president for homeland and counterterrorism. thank you for joining me. >> thanks for having me. as you know, wolf, this is an absolutely tragic and outrageous situation that has happened in nigeria and our hearts go out to the families a he the president and first lady's thoughts and prayers are with the parents of the girls that have been abducted. what the u.s. is doing right now is deploying a team of experts from across our government to do everything we can at the president's direction to help the nigerian's find and safely return these girls to their families. >> how many americans are being deployed over there? >> well, we are in the process of adding to a team that we currently have on the ground in our embassy, wolf. at least a dozen folks will be on the ground shortly. these are military, law
enforcement, intelligent experts and victim assistance to help the families and hopefully the girls, when they return, cope with this. >> we've heard our barbara starr reporting that the girls have been separated. they are in smaller groups right now. have you heard that? i assume you have. >> well, wolf, i'm aware of those reports and, as you know, what we are doing is making sure that we are considering every possibility and we've got to be concerned with exactly that type of potential movement if it is in fact the case. there are very porous borders and remote and vast area. we've got to be concerned about that. >> so what does this boko haram group want? do they want money? ransom? do they just want to sell off these girls? what do they want? >> wolf, this is a terrorist group that has committed brutal, brutal acts for a number of years now. we're talking about suicide
bombings, attacks on churches and mosque and now the systematic and targeted kidnapping of women and girls to include potentially selling them into slavery and trafficking and this is something that is -- has escalated. this is a group that has been responsible for thousands of deaths. indeed, more than 1,000 just this year alone. so their motivation is really terror, wolf. >> which raises the question, two years ago you were among those in the government who recommended that the state department formally designate boko haram as a foreign terrorist organization. you did over at justice. for some reason, the state department rejected that advice and secretary of state at the time was hillary clinton. what was their thinking? was that a major blunder on the part of the state department?
>> no, wolf. there's a process that this government, our government goes in and goes through to designate a foreign terrorist organization. we have done that and we did that last year after a deliberate process. >> but it wasn't until november, lisa. that's long after this group started wiping out u.n. facilities. this has been a terrorist group for a number of years, as you well know. >> that's right, wolf. i think it's important to know that before we designated the group as a whole, there were key leaders of boko haram that we did designate as terrorists using the authority that this government has, designations are one tool among a whole host of tools that we use to combat terrorist groups and, most importantly, to work with the nigerian government in order to help them bring this fight to boko haram. >> if the u.s. government, as you had recommended, had
designated this group as a foreign terrorist organization, would it have made a difference potentially as far as these 200 or potentially 300 girls are concerned? in other words, would the u.s. have been able to do something on the ground to prevent this kind of brutality? >> i'm not going to speculate about what might have happened had a designation happened earlier. again, we designated leaders of the group. but certainly the designation was not a factor in the assistance that we've been providing for years to the nigerian government to help professionalize their military, to help provide them law enforcement and investigative assistance, to help indd provide economic and development assistance, which is also crucial to a secure and stable government to help them address the terrorist threat that boko haram presents not just now in nigeria but regionally. this is a regional problem that we're facing. >> what is the connection
between boko haram and al qaeda? >> well, wolf, we are concerned about that. what we've seen in the past is some funding from an oal qaeda affiliate from which you are aware of. we are concerned about the connections which heretoforeh hs been a brutal group and now we're concerned about them expanding beyond the nigerian borders into neighboring countries. >> one quick question on yemen. it looks like the capital of yemen is on lockdown. there's a credible threat to u.s. interests there. what is going on? >> well, wolf, as you know, we have extremely capable focused, dedicated and brave people who serve in our posts all overseas and particularly like elsewhere we are always concerned that
there's a threat posed by a very determined enemy in aqap and so what we do is we focus on that threat reporting and we take prudent measures to protect our people but these are folks who are serving diligently and bravely overseas and we're very appreciative of it. >> and we hope only that they are safe and sound. lisa monaco, the adviser to the president, thank you very much for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. coming up, fresh bloodshed in ukraine as the russian president invokes the memory of world war ii. we're going live to the heart of the conflict. plus, a new secret recording of donald sterling. what is the embattled nba owner saying about being forced to sell his team. dear sun, you created light. you are loved. celebrated. but things have changed since you got into this business.
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this is a wake-up call. trwith secure wifie for your business. it also comes with public wifi for your customers. not so with internet from the phone company. i would email the phone company to inquire as to why they have shortchanged these customers. but that would require wifi. switch to comcast business internet and get two wifi networks included. comcast business built for business. there's a new secret recording of the embattled clippers' owner, donald sterling, hinting at a bitter legal battle with the nchl ba which wants to force him to sell the team.
cnn's brian todd is here following the latest developments. they have been very dramatic. >> they have. key questions on this recording, who made the recording and why? it would seem to benefit donald sterling but we don't know who made it. it seems to indicate that he's pushing back against allegations of racism and that he's going to fight the nba over control of his team. he's talking to a longtime friend, seemingly aghast that they would think he's a racist. you think i have anything in the world but love for everybody? you don't think that. you know i'm not a racist. it's a recording of donald sterling speaking to a friend whose identity we don't know. cnn cannot verify that the voice on the recording is sterling's but radaronline says its source provided an affidavit that the phone call was made by sterling. >> how can you be in this business and be a racist? do you think i tell the coach to
get white players? or to get the best player he can get? >> it's unclear who made the recording and why they did it. the tape indicates that donald sterling is about to fight the nba over its attempt to force him to sell the l.a. clippers. >> you can't force someone to sell property in america. >> reporter: or can you? sterling's racist comments violate a clause in the nba's constitution saying an owner can lose a team if they fail to meet their obligations in such a way as to affect the association or its members adversely. that could mean a moral clause may force sterling out. on the other hand -- >> the nba constitution addressing ousted owners deals with owners unable to pay their bills or make payroll. this is new ground for justification for ouster of an owner. >> reporter: shelly sterling, who co-owns the clippers, is
legally entitled to maintain her stake in the team and she intends to. a family trust actually owns the clippers. shelly and donald sterling are the only trustees. there is one statement from adam silver when he talked about donald sterling's punishment. >> this ruling applies specifically to donald sterling and donald sterling's conduct only. >> did commissioner sterling leave her an opening? >> i believe he left her a very significant opening. the power in the trust or the power of the trustees in the trust would allow her to purchase assets from the trust. she may very well wind up being owner of the entire interest. >> shelly sterling's attorney says she's been in touch with the nba regarding her desire to maintain stake in the clippers. the nba is not commenting on that or the apparent recordings. wolf? >> thank you, brian todd.
rachel nichols is joining us along with cnn legal analyst jeffrey toobin and don lemon. the comments made on this tape by donald sterling, how does this move the whole story forward? >> well, this is the most we've heard from donald sterling in terms of his intentions to fight this, him saying nobody can take his property away. but that's not a surprise to the in. ba. that's why they've been so careful in their legal maneuverings so far. they knew he would likely file lawsuits or try to slow them down to remind them who they are up against. i've been saying the bombshell wild card here is shelly sterling. she's saying that she's going to fight to keep this team. and remember, all of those parts of the constitution about impacting the nba, well, adam silver has already come out and said that doesn't apply to her. she's going to have a stake here. we're going to have to see how
it plays out because, trust me, players on the league don't want her to have anything to do with this team, but she may have a case. >> you heard donald sterling on this alleged tape saying i'm a lawyer. you can't force people to sell property in america. he's referring to his nba team. is he right or delusional? >> he's delusional. the contract with the nba, his agreement to follow the constitution of the nba explicitly allows the nba to force him to sell. that's what we've been talking about. he is gone. there's no way in the world that the nba is going to allow him to have any role in this team ever again. i think shelly is gone, too. she may have a chance to go into court and gum up the works but neither one of them is, i think, come opening day next season is going to be part of this team. >> don, one thing i didn't hear in this latest audiotape was any apology from donald. did you hear any apology? did you hear him say, i really
feel bad. i feel awful. i'm sorry for those words. they were misunderstood. please forgive me. did you hear anything along those lines? >> no. it's called self awareness. i heard no remorse and i'm listening to the whole thing. this is what got me. i want to get the question read. number one, why is he talking on the phone to anyone? he's a lawyer. he knows the last time he spoke to someone about this situation what happened. it ended up on tape and got him into trouble. how can you -- and this came out of his mouth. how can you be in this business and be a racist? that's the question that everybody is asking about him. how can he be in this business and be racist? clearly the comments that came out of his mouth were racist. now, listen, he is even accused of discriminating against white players. j.j. redding, we've heard about that. apparently he didn't want to
sign up white players. how can you do this and be racist? they do it all the time. this guy has no self-awareness. he does not understand what racism is. and shelly, she can forget about it. she's in for a rude awakening. they are going to spend all of this money to go into court when they could just take this money and run. >> our stephanie elam had a chance to talk to shelly's attorney. listen to what he said. >> mrs. sterling has denounced her husband's racist comments, totally disassociated herself and commissioner silver is clear that she's not accused of anything here, she didn't do anything wrong. it's donald. number two, they have been estranged and not living together for over a year. okay? and while they share business properties, he's out of the team, has nothing to do with it and she's the owner in charge.
>> that full interview will air on "ac 360." rachel, you're well plugged in with the nba. what's the likely nba response to this assertion by shelly sterling's lawyer that she wants to keep the team, she owns half of it? >> the nba is going to be scrambling a bit here because adam silver did make that statement that puts them in a tough position. and she is a co-owner of the team. she's been releasing all of these statements herself the past few days identifying herself as a co-owner and saying "we" a lot. just to remind people, she has a stake in this. players don't want her to have anything to do with this. you guys are being presumptive here assuming that she'll be out by the send of summer. this is going to be complicated. i don't think there are any lawyers in los angeles that want to get their hands on this. >> p iadam silver's comment was
only about whether she could still go to games, whether she was suspended from any participation with the team and she has been going to games. he did not say that she could still own the team. they are the same ownership group. they have been separated for less than a year. that is not separate ownership. >> hold on. don -- >> i don't think the question was just about that. i think the question is to adam silver was about the larger sense of the sterlings and he wasn't directly saying that he could own the team but it wasn't that narrow, either. and i do think it opens a door. >> don, very quickly, i know you guys are going to be back in our next hour as well because there's a lot more to discuss. and if they were to sell it for $1 billion, at this stage in their lives, why don't they just tend gracefully, take the
billion dollars, walk away, apologize, do good deeds and get over it? >> two things. it's very easy. ego agreed. they don't want to pay the taxes. he wants to pass it on to his wife whenever he passes and ego. he don't want to be forced to do anything he doesn't want to do. simple as that. >> guys, we'll continue this conversation in the next hour. don't go too far away. we're also getting new details about the secret sterling recordings. we'll share them with you. that's coming up. and we're following the increasing tension on the ground in ukraine right now. is the standoff on the brink of all out war? and the search for the missing girls. new details about what role the united states will play in the fight against those terrorists. honestly, the off-season isn't i've got a lot to do. that's why i got my surface. it's great for watching game film and drawing up plays. it's got onenote, so i can stay on top of my to-do list, which has been absolutely absurd since the big game.
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a very tense standoff in an eastern ukraine city where soldiers are trying to back pro-russian crowds. the tension and bloodshed there, they are not letting up by any means. we'll get a live report on the ground from our own nick paton walsh. he's standing by. first, jim sciutto is here. he's got more on the russian president vladimir putin and his role in what's going on right now. you're learning new information? >> yes. president putin made this promise yesterday, that he's moving the russian forces back from the border with eastern ukraine. u.s. officials, european officials repeating today they have not seen any sign, they are looking at the satellite images,
they don't see any signs that they are moving back across the borders. what he's doing is he has troops forward deployed all along the eastern border here in camps. >> right around here? >> yeah. they are troops that came all over russia. he moves them closer to the ukrainian border, he scares them and he moves them back. he's not redeploying those troops back to where they came from. so from the perspective of nato allies, u.s. officials, he's just moving those chess pieces around the board but they are still forward deployed and there's still 40 to 50,000 of them and they are still in a very threatening position. and that's why when you speak to u.s. officials they say they haven't seen anything substantive to say that president putin is doing nothing substantive to say that he's taking back that threatening position from eastern ukraine. the two faces of vladimir putin. today the russian president
reviewing a missile test launch less than a day aer promising to withdraw russian troops from the ukraine border. allies have not detecting any sign that the pull back is actually happen. >> so far, we haven't seen any indications that they are pulling back their troops. let me assure you that if we get visible evidence, that they are actually pulling back their troops, i would be the very first to welcome it. >> reporter: as for putin's appeal to pro-russian separatists to cancel a referendum, officials say they will go ahead with the vote no matter what the russian president says in public. >> translator: we don't have direct contact with vladimir putin. i think he will learn about the decision in the same way. >> reporter: on the ground, the back and forth between ukrainian forces and militants continues
unabated. if government troops retake the same city hall building they had lost only yesterday. as then putin warned the outbreak of ethnic divisions echos the run-up to world war ii. >> translator: in europe, as you know, every now and then combative nationalism rears its head, the same that once led to the birth of the nazi ideology. >> the focus now is on national elections scheduled in ukraine for may 25th and when i speak to u.s. officials, they say that even with all of the this disruption, wolf, that we're seeing in eastern ukraine, if the elections were held today or tomorrow, they could believe they would happen. if the situation gets worse there, that's a different story and as you know and we were talking about this last week, president obama has set his new red line in effect that it's going to trigger the painful, expensive sector sanctions
against russia. but as of today, they still think the elections could happen may 25th. >> we'll soon find out. jim sciutto, thanks very much. let's turn to the situation on the ground right now inside ukraine where so many people are fearing that there could be an all out civil war. our senior international correspondent nick paton walsh is on the scene for us as he always is. tell us what you are seeing right now. >> reporter: a lot of confusion yesterday about what vladimir putin actually meant and backed up by continued uncertainty today. many people this morning sounding like they had the wind taken out of their sails but still defense is being built up inside the city and in a sense people are forging ahead despite growing fears that they see violence in the days ahead. this is militants reacting to news that there will be a
referendum on sunday no matter what vladimir putin thinks. it's a town that is not about to back down. these men arriving fresh to join the militia now encircled by ukraine's army. putin's advice that they delay, letting putin distance himself and claim that it's a homegrown uprising. in the central square, they mourn the dead of the past days but the self-declared man brandishes new ballot papers brought in last night. it's still on his desk but he sleeps behind it with a flak jacket and rocket launcher. he reads me a note from a local girl hoping her guardian angel watches over him. he may need more than that when this vote goes ahead. we're ready to have a referendum, he says, we have the papers. putin is the head of the russian federation.
we have our own people's republic. let's get it right. life here, the only working bank, ukrainians caught between either a bloody intervention by the army or a messy and floored vote to likely join russia. at the last barricade before the army, they hang this figure. next is the interior minister or the president hanging themselves in the real world, they joke, before showing their arm with cocktails. the safe way out of this town is the bridge and the crisis is decreasing fast. wolf, where are we now? not much different than where we were before putin made those comments. the military is amassing in large numbers and those inside still ready to defend it, armed to the teeth. most people thinking that the referendum is not going to be legitimate but it's going to end
with some kind of a request to join russia. the key difference is that everything that happens from now on, vladimir putin will say he tried to stop it and that potentially takes the wind out of brussels if they were to institute sanctions. wolf? >> nick paton walsh reporting live from slovyansk, thanks. we're tracking severe storms threatening about 50 million people right now from texas all the way to minnesota. new car!
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50 million americans from texas all the way up to minnesota. they're ngoing to have much mor on this story coming up. first another story we're following in "the situation room." hillary clinton says she's not made a decision about running for president in 2016 but hasn't stopped republicans from ramping up attacks on her and her record as secretary of state. senior political correspondent brianna keilar is in "the situation room" looking into the late developments for us. >> wolf, as you know, republicans have been looking for potential soft spots in hillary clinton's state department armor from the attack on the u.s. consulate in libya to her attempted reset of u.s./russia relations in 2009 and now to her position on this terrorist group that kidnapped girls in nigeria. >> for the life of me i cannot understand why the secretary of state did not want to designate boko haram as a terrorist organization. >> reporter: republicans raising questions today about hillary clinton's decision not to classify boko haram as a
terrorist group when secretary of state. yesterday clinton had pointed words for the nigerian government for its response to boko haram's kidnapping of hundreds of girls. >> the government of nigeria needs to get serious about protecting all of its citizens. >> reporter: but sources close to clinton tell cnn the state department didn't want to legitimatize the group or energize its recruitment. >> what is it you want to achieve? >> reporter: republicans are attacking clinton's record at the state department as she prepares to launch her book tour next month. meanwhile, clinton is racks up miles and millions with a schedule of mostly paid speeches. >> miss clinton, if you don't represent women in politics in america as future president, who will? >> reporter: answering friendly questions in friendly forums with one exception. >> about two -- >> reporter: last month when a woman threw a shoe at her in las vegas. clinton concentrates mainly on social issues near and dear to
her heart, but her political opponent are trying to chip away at her tenure at the state department, something voters can consider a political positive according to polls. house republicans forming a select committee to investigate the 2012 attack on the consulate in benghazi, libya. >> we're going to send subpoenas and going to expect her to comply. >> reporter: but clinton has dismissed the need for further investigation. >> i do not believe there is any reason for it to continue in this way, but they get to call the shots in the congress. >> if hillary clinton decides to run for president, many sources in her camp tell me they don't think it's an election that will be won or lost on foreign policy. however, they're also very, very sensitive to this part of her resz m resume taking a hit. as secretary of state, clinton had a reputation as a very good boss and erased some of the stains of her poorly managed presidential campaign in 2008, helped soften her often hyperpolitical image and allies don't want republic chance to
diminish that, wolf. >> brianna keilar, good report. thank twryou. just ahead, breaking news. we're tracking severe thunderstorms threatening millions from texas to minnesota. and the u.s. role about to increase as more military personnel arrive to help find hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls in nigeria. and there are new developments in the search for malaysia flight 370. we have details of what passengers' families are now demanding. (mother vo) when i was pregnant... i got more advice than i knew what to do with. what i needed was information i could trust on how to take care of me and my baby. luckily, unitedhealthcare has a simple program that helps moms stay on track with their doctors and get the right care and guidance-before and after the baby is born.
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happening now, breaking news. strong storms threatening millions of americans right now. we're just getting word of a tornado on the ground. plus, we're learning how terrorists are arming themselves to brutalize innocent children as the u.s. military is about to hit the ground to find hundreds of kidnapped girls. plus, donald sterling in denial. the clippers owner apparently caught on a secret recording insisting he's not a racist. he's also lashing out at the nba legend, magic johnson. there's a lot more to discuss in
this huge sports sandal. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> let's get to the breaking news right now. severe, severe storms, we're tracking them threatening about 50 million people from texas up to minnesota. we're just getting word of a tornado on the ground. let's go right to our severe weather expert, our meteorologist chad myers for the very latest. chad? >> what we have, wolf, setting up now is a superstorm type event which means we don't have lines of weather. now, there are some lines out here, but we're not worried about those. we're worried about the individual cells. one, two, three. another north of kansas city, four. let me take you to, zoom right on to the one in minnesota. this is what it looks like that that far from the north of st. james, minnesota. understand now minneapolis is still 100 miles that way, but
this storm now has intensity. it has rotation and it's all by itself. it is that meso cyclone. it's the super cell that we always dread looking at when especially when it comes to going toward a big town or big city. here's tim pearington from severe studios. he had a picture of this tornado on the ground a little bit ago. he had to move to get out of the way. we'll watch this event all night long for twryou. there will be multiple tornadoes on the ground. let me focus on what we have here. probably a wall cloud right through here. i don't see a tornado on the ground just yet. but if you want to hang with me, he's now getting very, very close. something else, i don't know if you can see this on television or not, but that right there is green. think about the top of an old coke bottle. you look at it and it's green. that's the hail. the hail core of the storm turns green. so if you see a storm you go, that doesn't look gray, that looks like a weird color. that's what you're seeing is the hail inside the storm. here's the wall cloud through
here. the base of wall cloud here and likely still on the ground. if we get this live and show it to you, we will break right in, wolf. get right back to you. >> those are live pictures you're showing our view eers, right, chad? >> they are. >> if you're driving and see something like that, what do you do? keep on driving or park the car? what do you do? >> you absolutely park the car. storm chasers, though, have radars in their car. they know what this storm is doing, what direction it's going and also know what roads are available. they have been toidoing this fo years and years and years. we talk about these storm chasers. they relay this data to the national weather service because this storm was so far away from a radar it was difficult to see the rotation. this was relayed in by radio to the weather service and the rotation there was a funnel cloud at the time was put out with a tornado warning because of those spotters possibly saving lives even as we speak. >> these live pictures, chad, where are they? >> this is just now to north of st. james, minnesota, southern
minnesota. almost center of the state. south and west of minneapolis, itself. 100 miles south of minneapolis, but a big cell like this that's already rotating, that's all by itself, can go for 100 miles. so we will keep you up to date as the show goes on, wolf. >> that's pretty frightening when you look at those clouds. you look at those pictures over there, chad. all right. we're going to get back to you shortly. let's hope for the best. but there's other breaking news we're following this hour here in "the situation room." the u.s. military right now ramping up its role in one of the most urgent fights against terrorists that's happening. we're learning more about efforts to find hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped by islamic terrorists in nigeria and how the brutal terrorists are getting their weapons. let's go straight to our pentagon correspondent, barbara starr. she has new information. barbara? >> wolf, military officials insist the pentagon is only going to offer advice and assistance to the nigerians but
when you hear how boko hara operates, it is bone chilling. boko haram's deadly arsenal in full view. look at the armored vehicle here. cnn has learned u.s. intelligence believes boko haram stole vehicles like this from the nigerian military. u.s. officials say the terror group's lucrative kidnapping enterprise also earns it enough money to buy whatever it can on africa's illegal weapons market. a web of crime and smuggling. weapons used to terrorize and kill the innocent. residents say boko haram arrived in armored personnel carriers wearing military uniforms to this village, killing more than 300. >> our interagency team is hitting the ground in nigeria now. >> reporter: more rust assistance is on the way to help find the hundreds of kidnapped girls. a small u.s. military team is scheduled to arrive friday to join other military, law
enforcement, and intelligence personnel already on the ground. the u.s. is talking to nigeria about providing surveillance assets. u.s. drones operating out of nearby niger could be the centerpiece. >> we can help pinpoint the location of the boko haram kidnappers as well as potentially the hostages. >> reporter: if drones spot boko haram operatives -- >> they would also be able to very quickly relay data down to the ground to special mission units that could then take care of the mission and to actually potentially free the hostages. >> reporter: but no decisions have been made about what to do, and the latest intelligence shows the girls likely have already been broken up into small groups and some may even have been moved across nigeria's borders. if the girls have been moved, especially across international borders, it is only going to make it even more difficult to
find them, rescue them, and then get them back to their families. wolf? >> what a heartbreaking story this is. all right, barbara, thanks. let's bring in our military analyst, retired u.s. army major general spider marks and chief national security correspondent jim sciutto. these girls have been broken up, nearly 300 of them and broken up into small groups, 5 here, 5 here, 10 here. that makes it almost like a mission impossible given the terrain there, given the geography, what's going on. >> yeah, the real issue is if they have been dispersed like that, now we have multiple pockets, lots of targets and as has been described, this is really an intelligence collection requirement, and it requires the full cooperation of the nigerians. now, the problem there obviously is their military is horribly corrupt as is their entire government and you have exceptionally wealthy and you've got amazingly poor and really have a couple nigerias. you've got on the coast where the oil is located and then you've got essentially this hell which is desert where these
folks are located. the good news is if they're in that part of the country, they're easy to find yet still difficult to get to if you want to do something about them. >> last hour i spoke to the president's top counterterrorism adviser. she confirmed the u.s. troops, law enforcement sbernlintellige military, they're going in there, about a dozen right now. she also said they are deeply worried about this connection between these terrorist group, boko haram and al qaeda. >> no question. this is the new al qaeda. it's a franchise operation. not just al qaeda in pakistan, core al qaeda, the most familiar al qaeda i think for our viewers. it has these relationships with groups in syria, groups in iraq, increasingly group in north africa. we talk frequently about al qaeda in the arabian peninsula operating out of yemen. now you another one. that's a problem. when i speak to intelligence officials about this new kind of franchised al qaeda, maybe not as ambitious as the new core al qaeda but more difficult because it's more dispersed to snuff it
out, to extinguish it. it's a bigger threat spread out around the world. >> there's a limit to what the u.s. military, law enforcement, intelligence, what they can do in nigeria if the nigerian government and military aren't up to the job, themselves. because the u.s. can advise, but they can't really go in there, take charge. >> wolf, that's exactly it. the intelligence collection piece is only a part of it. intelligence is an active verb. what are you going to do about it once you get this intelligence? if the nigerians aren't cooperating at all in terms of how you're going to go after these targets, and, again, the targets now are intermingled. you've got terrorists as well as hostages. that becomes precise. i imagine there are probably some special mission units that are available if there is a target and can strike very quickly. >> is it possible this group, boko haram, which has basically been focusing in on targets inside nigeria, maybe a little bit in neighboring countries, going after schoolgirls, they don't believe any girls should have an education, christians,
muslims, any girls should be educated? can they divert some of their attention to go after u.s. targets? >> we've seen this happen before in africa. al shabaab was largely focused domestically inside somalia, then started staging attacks in kenya. horrible attacks remember in the kenyan mall attack. it's possible. boko haram is different to some degree. described like something as a cult rather than a typical organization. sort of like the lords resistance army. traditionally it doesn't have much organization. kind of goaes after any target. that doesn't mean it may set its sights abroad. terror groups love international attention and getting international attention right now. >> they might be getting emboldened. jim sciutto and mr. marks. the l.a. clippers owner caught on a secret recording talking about the infamous rant that got him banned by the nba. >> how can you be in this business and be a racist? >> our panel is standing by. they're passionate about the story. they have a lot more to say
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we've got severe weather going on including a tornado on the ground. let's bring back our meteorologist chad myers. you've got live pictures you're showing our viewers as well. >> from the same chaser as earlier. was near st. james. now moving up toward judson and nicolette into southern minnesota and eventually if this continues to evolve, and be strong, it could get to the minneapolis/st. paul area in the next few hours. typically storms don't last that long, but here's what we have. we've been watching this tornado chaser right there. have that rotation right through
here, but the tornado base is here. lots of rising motion, but nothing spinning on the ground. we always look down here to see if there's something down here. not always will a tornado look like it's making its way to the ground. sometimes it looks like it's stopping here. you notice on the ground there's the spin and all of a sudden you know that there's a tornado. as he turns to the left, this is the secondary part of the storm, i think. move it up a little bit farther so you can see it just a little bit better. this is lowering of the cloud base right through here and this is likely rotating as well as he looks off to the left. he's on a highway. he's well out of the way. he's a professional storm chaser. knowing where the storm is. knowing the right part of the storm to be in and the part not to be in. so, great pictures here, but the driver right now is safe. the storm chasers are safe. if you are in the minneapolis/st. paul area, don't go to bed tonight without knowing where this storm is or go to a baseball or whatever's in town tonight without knowing what's on the way, wolf. >> good advice from chad as he always gives up. we'll get back to you.
other news we're following. new evidence the l.a. clippers' owner donald sterling and his estranged wife plan to fight demands to sell the team. shelly sterling's lawyer telling cnn she wants to keep her 50% ownership. donald sterling saying he can't be forced to sell his property. according to a secret recording released by radar online he's saying a lot more. the website saying the audio captures sterling talking to a friend about the rapt that gnt him banned from the nba and denying he's a racist. listen. >> you think i have anything in the world but love for everybody? you don't think that. you know i'm not a racist. >> let's bring back our panel, our senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin, cnn's rachel nichols, host of "rachel nichols unguarded" and our anchor, don lemon. what's the next formal step the nba is going to take we will learn presumably other than these alleged recordings? we'll hear directly from
sterling, what he's planning on doing. >> the nba advisory committee has met twice over the phone, conference calls, a third of the league's owners and continued to, quote, continue the discussions about removing donald sterling from ownership of the clippers. the pace of this has some players around the league frankly a little bit concerned because remember, we're not coming up on two weeks from when these audio recordings first surfaced and, we, donald sterling has been removed from day-to-day activities or any association with the team, but the big idea, the idea of completely separating him from the l.a. clippers, that process hasn't even started yet. the nba has not notified him yet of their intention to do that. and part of it, let's be honest, may be as they try to cross all the ts and dot all the is trying to anticipate the legal wranglings of the sterilings of which we are finding out there are multiple fronts they may be fighting on. donald a donald ale shelly may be fighting separately and that's
going to complicate things. >> listen to stadam silver, commissioner of the nba speaking about shelly sterling when he was asked pointed questions at the april 29th news conference. >> have there been decisions about whether the immediate members of mr. sterling's family including rochelle and his will be allowed to remain in a leadership or managerial position in the league as well? >> there have been no discussions about other members of the sterile family, and i should say that this ruling applies specifically to donald sterling and donald sterling's conduct only. >> go ahead. >> two points. one, remember, what silver did at that news conference was suspend dosus suspended donald sterling. >> banned him for that. >> shelly sterling has been to games since then. that did not apply to her.
what he did not say is whether they moved to remove both of them from their ownership position from the team. i anticipate that process is already under way. >> the question, in the question, it said ownership. >> that's right. he said that decision had not yet been made, but the decision to exclude her had been made. she was not excluded from going to games and whatnot. >> is there any way, don, she can become the effective principal owner of the l.a. clippers even if he walks away, he's banned for life? >> listen, wolf, i think anything is possible and, you know, when you think the law would be final, but it seems to be squishy when you talk to jeffrey, when i talk to sunny hostin and legal experts, they say it appears to be kind of squishy. i think anything is possible. >> is that a legal term. >> yeah, right. practically, i don't think so. speaking to someone in los angeles last night who's very close to this said donald sterling really has the ability to take down the league if his family continues to own the
clippers. because players, not just clippers players, but players from around the league will possibly drop out or not show up for games if this family continues to own it. you heard -- when this all started, denouncing. if that happens, there could be a snowball effect. i'm sorry, jeffrey. >> i apologize for interrupting. i don't think it's squishy at all. sterling, gone, shelly gone. they're never going to own the team again. i thnk the power is all in the hands of the nba owners and they're going to get rid of them both. >> all right, guys. >> i defer to you. you're the legal expert. >> not just the legal expert, senior legal expert. all right, guys. thanks very much. >> he knows from squishy. just ahead, we have some surprising new information coming into "the situation room." there are new payouts for flight 370 families. they're getting millions of dollars while making new demands today of the investigators.
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of tvideo you're about to see. lowering of the clouds. still lower. i'll take you to a different shot from a different angle. the lowering of the clouds here. at one point in time the lowering made it to the ground. this is what the video looked like. see what looks like a stove pipe or hat all the way to the ground underneath the words breaking news. there is a tornado on the ground. i think that breaking -- there it goes. the breaking news sign is going it to have to leave there. this 1 the tornado on the ground. this was just to the northeast of st. swrams james in minnesotl organized, still all by itself. though the tornado may not be on the ground immediately at this moment, this still has the potential. this is like a cycling storm. it's tornadoing then it stops. like an ice skater with her arms out. when she spins and pulls her arms in, it spins. tornado comes down. the arms go out, the spinner slows down. the skater slows down and the tornado slows down. so this is in and out and in and out. as it gets all the way up closer up into minnesota, there's even more twist to the atmosphere.
we'll keep watching it for you because this is going to be a dangerous cell as it heads part aern farther to the northeast. a much more populated area as we get farther and farther to the northeast. here's the live picture, again, i have it back here from tim purington. this is what he has. this is really called scud. misidentified as tornado sometimes. this is just rapidly rising air, roof. >> chad, stay with me. tim purington is joining us on the phone now. he shot the video of the tornado on the ground. tim, first of all, where are you? tell our viewers what you're seeing? >> we are just north of lake crystal, minnesota, currently i think it's -- we're definitely not getting rotation, we have a good lowering, good base, rising scud in front of us. >> chad, go ahead, ask him a question because i know you've got some good ones. >> yeah, we saw as you turn the camera, i believe to the left of the vehicle, what we appeared to see now is a kind of a stovepipe tornado on the ground. maybe an f-1 or f-2. is that what you saw physically
or was that just on the video? did you put on eyeball on the tornado on the ground? >> it actually tornadoed twice. one south of st. james and then rewrapped up and dropped again east of there. not very long. not as long as it did the first time. >> we're seeing that video now. so this storm, you would consider to be cycling up and down, up and down? >> yeah. exactly. right now it's, you know, we're hoping it's going to wrap back up, but it's definitely still, you know, looking decent. >> tim, it's wolf. is it pretty rural, that area? are there any village, towns, cities nearby? >> no, we're in all farm country right now right here. farm fields all over. just small rural towns. >> you have any idea where the severe weather is heading? >> i'm sorry, what was that? >> you know where the severe weather is heading? >> well, the super cells are forming off in southwest minnesota and moving, you know,
rapidly to the northeast. >> so what does that mean, chad? what does that mean? where is it going? is it going toward minneapolis/st. paul? >> it is, wolf, but we're hours, or at least an hour away from that. the cell is all by itself. it is that super cell using all of the energy, not battling any other storms. remember the game battling tops when we were kids. if you pulled one string and let the one battling top go, it would go forever. pull a bunch of them, they'd battle each other and fall down. this is battling nothing. this is going to move up toward the north and northeast, about 100 miles, maybe a little less now into minneapolis suburbs. it will be from the southwest first. we'll keep an eye on it as it makes its way that way. there's nothing at this point to stop it. there you go. probably 48 miles, moving at 30, 35 miles per hour. do the math, that's at least an hour out, wolf. >> all right. we'll stay on top of this story for our viewers obviously. tim purington, be careful over there,